Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

Normally, I try not to dwell on things like this because I can get mired down thinking about them, but I wanted to jot down a couple of things as we mark this ten year anniversary of 9/11.

September 11, 2001 was a beautiful, sunny Tuesday, early in the fall semester, and I was busy getting ready for my first meeting event of the year, which was scheduled for later that week. I was the first one in the office, getting in around 8:30am.  I had been drinking coffee and checking email while messaging with JR when she said a colleague of hers just told her someone had flown a plane into the World Trade Center in New York.

Immediately, I opened up to to see what was going on, and they had a headline with breaking news, but nothing else. That day was perhaps my frustrated day ever with the internet. No amount of "refreshing" would give me any more information. The same was true of and the other news sites. And then the second plane hit the South Tower. It was evident that this wasn't someone flying their Cessna into the building (which I recalled had happened a couple years prior).  This was some BIG.TIME.WRONG.

By the time PunkRockMom got into the office around 9:15am, my frustration about the lack of information had reached a pinnacle.  We tried out the office radio, but couldn't pick up an AM/news channel. Just before 10am, she and I decided to go down to the lobby where there was a television to see what was on the news (the days before streaming on-line news.) We got there just in time to see the first tower fall.

After that, the day becomes a blur, trying to process what was happening in our country, including the crash into the Pentagon and in PA, while dealing with how the events of that morning impacted my job (all the back and forth communication resulted in the cancellation of the event, even before the planes were grounded.)  I vaguely remember going home after work and turning on the news and leaving the TV on for the rest of the night. There was so much to absorb, and there was an unreality to it all. The fact that the first plane had flown out of Boston was particularly disturbing.

The biggest thing I remember affecting me after 9/11 was the planes. We were used to hearing planes and helicopters from our spot here along the Charles, sort of ambient noise from the world, but the silence of the following week was eerie. When the military jets would fly by from Hanscom Air Force base, I would immediately tense up. Even after commercial flights were allowed back into US airspace, I would look up every time I heard a plane, just to make sure it wasn't aimed at a building. It took a good year or so before I stopped looking up. I didn't have to fly anywhere for the next six months, and, when I finally did fly out of Logan, I nearly broke down in tears at the check-in desk. I still go to the airport with a bit of trepidation, but I won't let it stop my from flying (especially to LHR).

9/11 is certainly a watershed in my life, in terms of the way that I think about the world, but it isn't the only watershed.  There are others; some more personal and some less. What I hope that what we take out of that day in September ten years ago is something positive rather than negative: a love of country, freedom, and each other, because what we were reminded of that day is that we are all in this together.

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